The fourth book in the Yellow Rose Mysteries series, published January 2007.
Even though sassy Texas heiress Abby Rose was born with a silver iced-tea spoon in her mouth, she’s seen plenty of hard-luck stories in her work as an adoption PI. But consulting on a lifestyle make-over show will introduce her to an alternative – and deadly – reality…
Shoot from the Lip
The thought of working with a hot-shot producer and her TV crew is about as appealing to Abby as sticking her hand in a bucket of leeches. But "Reality Check" is a program that claims to turn American dreams into the real thing, and Abby figures that if anyone deserves that kind of bonanza, it's Emma Lopez, who has been raising her three younger siblings since her mother disappeared. Her family may be short on cash, but they’re long on backbone. Of course, there’s a hitch: an anonymous note hinting at a missing fourth child has been delivered to the study, and a lost baby is just the kind of gritty reality the producers don’t want to expose. But Abby is determined to help Emma realize her dream of a reunion-even when it becomes clear that someone out there doesn't believe in happy endings…
Abby is not happy when she finds a female reporter and a cameraman on her doorstep. Ever since that unwanted publicity around her previous big case, she gets swamped with requests for help. So she sure doesn’t want any more publicity. And when the extremely obnoxious reporter tells her they are working on a tv production called Reality Check, and need her help, she is even less happy. But she does get interested in the case, and even though she turns the tv people down, she wants to help Emma Lopez find her missing baby sister.
Emma’s father died before she was even born, so she never knew him. Her mother was an alcoholic, which left little Emma taking care of her younger brothers and sister, who also did not have a daddy. Her mother often left them alone for days, while on a drinking binge. But one day she stayed gone for a lot longer, and then child services came for them. Luckily they could all four stay together in the same foster home, and when Emma turned 16, she got legal custody of them and moved back to her old house.
Now someone has anonymously tipped a tv program about Emma, and that she deserves some help for the difficult live she has had, raising herself and her brothers and sisters in a good way. Her house is about the be demolished by the city as it is become too dangerous to live in. And the tv program has offered her a new house, help with college for her younger sister and brother, and all kind of extra’s. Emma was really happy with all that, until she found out they knew about her missing baby sister, and were planning to use that in the show as well. Unfortunately, she cannot get out of her contract as Abby’s lawyer confirms, and has to do what the tv people want. And Emma really would like to find her baby sister. Her mother told her the social child services took the baby away while Emma was in school the day after she helped her mother give birth to the little girl.
But when they demolish the house, they find a tiny baby body buried underneath the house. Is it the end of Abby’s search before she has even begun? And what did happen to Emma’s mother when she didn’t come back ten years ago? Abby sure could use Jeff’s support right now, but he is away on personal business, and he won’t tell her or his partner what it is all about.
I have to give credits to Leann Sweeney once again: she managed to come up with another incredible plot, which I totally did not see coming. Of course there were details I guessed, but the plot itself, no way! And for a bookaddict as myself, being surprised is a very good and happy thing.
So, mystery part: great! It sure had me reading in a trance to find out what has happened and how it would all end.
Emma was a very likable character. She stood up for herself and her brothers and sister, and did a very great job raising them all. Now she has a chance at something better, but she wants to give it all up, as she doesn’t want the whole of America witness her sordid past, or her mother’s. But when the baby is found, the reality show changes into a crime show. She cooperates if she must, but does not let anybody bully her around.
On the personal part: Kate has split up with Jerry, as he keeps pushing for marriage and children, and she is not ready for that. And Kate on the rebound very fast picks up a new guy... or did he pick her for a reason?
Jeff happens to have a sister with Down Syndrome, and the woman who has taken care of her has died. Now he has to find a way to take care of her himself, so how does that affect his life with Abby and their new relationship?